By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
NEW PARIS —
It was a perfect day for a hay ride in New Paris Friday evening as revelers converged on Sunnyside Park to usher in the fall season with a festive Second Friday’s celebration.
A relatively new event for the small community located just south of Goshen, Second Fridays is a communitywide event featuring games, food and different themes every second Friday of the month with the goal of fostering community involvement.
“We started it in May, and the purpose is really just to give the community an opportunity to get together and socialize,” said Mary Ann Holderman, a member of the Sunnyside Park Board, which organizes the Second Fridays events. “We always have a variety of food, like tonight we have our first Chili Cook-off, so tonight’s meal will be chili and corn bread for $3.50. Then we also have free hay rides tonight. We’ll be playing some bingo for prizes, and we also have several local vendors here for people to enjoy.”
Founded by the residents of New Paris in the late 1960s, Holderman said Sunnyside Park used to be a highly utilized asset of the area, though in more recent years that usage has begun to drop off as more and more things compete for people’s attention. It is that lax in usage, Holderman said, that first fostered the idea for the Second Fridays event.
“We’ve got a lot of people in the community who have stepped up to form this committee called Second Fridays,” Holderman said. “People that grew up here, we remember the old park days from the 1970s and 1980s, and there was really a lot of activity. But through the years, things have changed, people are busy and lives are hectic. So our drive through the park board and Second Fridays is to try and get the community out and involved again.”
And according to New Paris residents Donald and Margaret Juday, the board’s plan is working.
“I think its been a good thing for the community,” Donald said of Second Fridays. “We live here in town, and we try to take in everything that goes on, all the community gatherings. And our son-in-law is out here doing hay rides. So we decided to come down and sample the chili and help them decide which is best. But really we just like to take part in everything that goes on in our little community.”
Carol Hann, a relative newcomer to New Paris, was quick to agree.
“I’ve only been in New Paris six months, so I’m a bit of a newbie,” Hann said with a laugh. “I can’t believe all the things they have going on here. It’s just great.”